113 years old summer staple of India- Rooh Afza
The summer staple choice for millions of people, a refreshing twist of herbal concoction- the millennial option ‘Rooh Afza’ – a drink of generations. Rooh Afza has borne witness to more than 100 years of sub-continental history including countries like Pakistan, New Zealand, England, and even European countries. It’s the only drink that maintained its legacy of being the people’s choice drink for straight 100 years. A few drops in cold water, a little twist or twirl, and all you can witness is the rosy sweet flavor of this majestic drink.
Living up with Rooh Afza, it certainly had become an integral part of our lives. As far as our childhood memories stretch, all we can remember is the divine yet minimalist taste of Rooh Afza. Yet, despite the huge popularity of the drink, not many know about its contemporary history. Originated in the heart of now Pakistan, the journey of Rooh Afza is nothing less than an elixir.
Rooh Afza- A Journey Into A Million Hearts of India
Rooh Afza was created more than 100 years ago, an era before India gained its freedom. It was first invented in 1907 by Hakeem Abdul Majeed, an expert in Unani and herbal medicines, for medicinal purposes. Though being created as a medicine, the tonic somehow made its way through the dusky lanes of Old Delhi to being a household sensation.
It was made by blending khurfa seeds, mint, grapes, carrots, watermelons, oranges, poppy seeds, coriander, spinach, lotus, two kinds of lilies, keora, and finally, damask roses. The intent was to serve as an anti heatstroke or dehydration drink in the scorching summers of the country as the drink improves our immune system. But its tinted taste and flavor with no side effects made Rooh Afza, a drink of annual parties.
Two or more drops into water, a bit of twirl, and the drink is ready. Such an easy alternative to expensive drinks in the market, Rooh Afza became a choice for everyone. Witnessing the growing popularity, Hakeem Abdul Majeed thought of commercializing the business. In 1910, Majeed asked Mirza Noor Ahmed to create a logo for the brand. Mirza Ahmed designed a logo keeping in mind the ingredients used in the drink, and since then the logo hasn’t changed. The logos were printed by Bolton Press of the Parsees of Bombay.
Rooh Afza traveled across India and as far as Afghanistan, yet the untimely partition of the country halted the supply. Because the partition left millions of people scattered, it was no different for Hakeem’s family. Because Hakeem died in the early 1930s, his sons Abdul Hameed and Said were now in charge of the business. However, the partition ripped the family apart and Said went to Bangladesh. There he picked up the remains of the broken business and tried to restart the family’s legacy. He started by operating alone in a two-room rented apartment.
The company evolved into a national organization called Waqf by 1953 and is now manufacturing under the name of Hamdard (Waqf) Laboratories in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. New Glass bottles for Rooh Afza were designed in Germany but subsequently, plastic bottles were developed.
Despite the country’s massive bloodshed, partition, and shattered families, Rooh Afza somehow survived the bloodbath.
The Rising Popularity of Rooh Afza
“It’s a drink infused in our culture and our mothers and grandmothers find their solace within it not just because it’s a cheap alternative for refreshment but because of the legacy associated. I remember, at every function in our family, my mother would serve Rooh Afza with lemon. To date, it’s one of my favorite drinks.” says Parul Yadav, content writer at The Indianness.
The drink is in high demand especially during the holy month of Ramadan. It has become a traditional staple diet in the evening Iftaar of the Muslims. Be it with water, milk, or even ice creams, no family excludes Rooh Afza from their monthly shopping. In 2019 during the month of Ramadan, India suffered a massive shortage in the supply of Rooh Afza, the people from Pakistan aided in the transport of this history-infused drink to India at the time. Such is the legacy of the brand.
The company has a sales turnover of over Rs 600 crore and is growing above 20 percent from last two years. Additionally, the company is also planning to open ten wellness centers in the country, starting with Delhi. Furthermore, they are considering tetra packs and pet bottles for Rooh Afza. As per the updates, Hamdard is planning to diversify its products by adding categories like cosmetics as well.
Rooh Afza is indeed India’s favorite soft drink.